Apr. 11, 1999

The Shadow-Line

by William Logan

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: April 11, 1999

Poems: "The Shadow-Line," by William Logan, from Vain Empires (Penguin).

Israel began its trial of ADOLF EICHMANN on this day in 1961, the man accused of carrying out Hitler's so-called "final solution," or the killing of millions of Jews in camps like Auschwitz. American soldiers had grabbed and jailed Eichmann at the end of WWII, but he escaped. After dodging in and out of the Middle East for years, Eichmann finally settled in Argentina in 1958. He was arrested by Israeli agents in May, 1960, smuggled out of Argentina to Israel. The trial began in Jerusalem on April 11 and lasted until mid-December, when Eichmann was sentenced to be hanged.

It was on this day in 1951 that PRESIDENT TRUMAN FIRED GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR as head of United Nations forces in Korea. When the Korean War began in 1950, MacArthur was placed at the head of the U.N.'s army, and told only to contain the conflict and not let it spread to China and turn into World War III. MacArthur started writing letters to American leaders: he wanted to expand the war, take it to China and use nuclear weapons, and Truman fired him for insubordination.

WWII German bombers began their blitz of COVENTRY, ENGLAND on this day in 1941 — a center for Britain's rayon manufacture, electronics and ordnance. Fifty thousand houses and dozens of businesses were flattened, and about the only things left standing in Coventry were the old medieval spires of St. Michael's Cathedral and Grey Friars' Church.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, THE GREAT GATSBY, was published on this day in 1925; the story set in West Egg, New York about Jay Gatsby and his lost love, Daisy Buchanan, narrated by Nick Carroway. Fitzgerald wrote it during the previous fall and winter when he was living in France, and Scribners brought it out with an initial print run of 21,000 copies, then ran another 3,000 copies a few months later. It had a mixed reception at the time, but earlier this year readers of the Library Journal ranked The Great Gatsby in the top 15 novels of the century.

Abraham Lincoln gave his LAST PUBLIC SPEECH on this date in 1865 in Washington. The Civil War had ended two days earlier and his first priority was bringing the Confederate states back into the Union. He hoped that the new state governments would find ways for whites and blacks to work together — for instance he wanted blacks to be given the immediate right to vote. Three days later Lincoln was assassinated.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook

The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »